Man arrested for allegedly throwing explosive into Bridgeport home

Murder charges were announced Monday against a Burnside man who allegedly threw a makeshift explosive through a window of a Bridgeport home belonging to the Chicago Housing Authority. 

Cordale Nichols, 37, was allegedly targeting his girlfriend, but the fire from the explosive killed the woman’s mother, Charnette Walker, and injured the woman’s 12-year-old daughter, Cook County prosecutors said.

Nichols is charged with first-degree murder and attempted murder, aggravated arson and failing to register as a previous offender in a gun crime, police said. 

Nichols is accused of lighting and throwing a soda bottle of flammable liquid through a window of an apartment in the 3100 block of South Green Street in the early hours of June 15. He made his first court appearance Monday and was ordered held pending trial.

Assistant State’s Attorney Jennifer Cooper said Monday that Nichols had been dating Walker’s daughter, whom he argued with about a motel room bill on Friday. The two argued over social media and video calls for much of the day and Nichols threatened to hurt the woman, Cooper said.

Nichols took the CTA to Bridgeport late Friday and appeared on surveillance footage lighting something on fire and throwing it through a first-floor window, Cooper said. Emergency workers found a 7-Up bottle in the living room which they believe contained the flammable liquid, she said. 

According to prosecutors’ petition for pretrial detention, the explosive landed in the living room. Cooper said Monday that other CHA residents put a mattress beneath the girl’s bedroom window so she could jump out and escape the fire, but that Walker wasn’t able to get out of the home ahead of the fire. Nichols’ girlfriend had returned to the motel room where they had been staying, she said.

Police arrested Nichols near the residence. He smelled of gasoline about 45 minutes after the device was thrown, according to a police report.

A person who matched the description of Nichols appeared on surveillance footage throwing an incendiary device through a first-floor window and then running northward through an alley, according to the police report. Cooper said Monday that Walker’s daughter identified Nichols wearing a rain jacket, headphones and shoes she had bought him. 

Judge Caroline Glennon-Goodman ordered Nichols detained while he awaits trial, according to a post-hearing order. 

Glennon-Goodman also noted in the order that Nichols, who has a previous felony conviction, had not registered as a gun offender since November 2020. Court records show he was sentenced to seven years in prison for an attempted armed carjacking in December 2016.

Amanda Pyron, executive director of The Network: Advocating Against Domestic Violence, said that high-profile instances of domestic violence can lead to “copycat incidents or increased incidents of domestic violence in other relationships or other areas.” 

“We want survivors to know there are resources available and they can call the domestic violence hotline if they want to talk or need help,” she said. 

Nichols’ next court appearance is scheduled for July 3, records show.

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